The great Beaches in Oaxaca, Mexico

The great Beaches in Oaxaca, Mexico

Imposing cliffs, secret bays, medium-grained sand and breaking waves characterize the coast of the state of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. The beaches here, on the Pacific side of Mexico, are far from the white sand and turquoise waters of the Riviera Maya, on the Caribbean side, which receives much more tourists than Oaxaca. I prefer the beaches of Oaxaca for several reasons: there are fewer people, a more relaxed environment and top-notch surfing.

Stay tuned for a tour of my favorite beaches in Oaxaca, where you won’t find big resorts and you’ll get a taste of what real Mexican beach towns are:

Puerto Escondido Hotels

Puerto Escondido is the most touristy city on this list, but not for nothing. There are quite a few beaches to choose from, each with its own unique character. Some are more visited by locals, while others are hot spots for foreigners.

Playa Del Carmen

I left for Playa Carrizalillo because it is the first beach I visited in Puerto Escondido. The beach is covered on either side by huge rocky cliffs, creating an idyllic bay where the water is calm enough for swimming, but you’ll also see surfers riding the waves further away.

To get there, you need to go down a lot of stairs. Afterward, you can relax in one of the beach huts and enjoy a drink on a beach chair, take snorkeling equipment to observe the colorful fish or take a surfing lesson.

Carrizalillo is quite busy with locals and tourists on weekends and even in the afternoon on weekdays, so the best time to go is in the morning during the week.

Playa Bacocho offers a huge stretch of sandy beach, with volleyball nets and one of the best sunsets in town. This is also where conservationists set up a shop to help sea turtles hatch in a safe environment before heading to the ocean. To see the turtles, plan to arrive around 17h. you can even participate in their release if you want, although I don’t know how ethical this is for the animals.

The waves here were a bit choppy for swimming, but I didn’t pass in the morning either, so maybe it would be safer then.

In any matter, Playa Bacocho is a great place to take a picnic to watch the sunset. If you are a beach volleyball fan, you can also participate in a competition here. I came one afternoon with a friend and we ended up having fun by jumping into a volleyball game with people who had been playing all day.

These two rocky beaches run along the same bay, separated by a concrete slab topped by a small lighthouse. You can easily park and go down the stairs, choosing the beach where to go down.

These two small beaches could not be more different from each other, however, in terms of their general atmosphere and their clientele. Playa Manzanillo is home to the very popular La Isla Beach Club, which attracts many foreigners and offers live music almost every afternoon, with international DJs and a constant stream of people coming in and out to dance.

Puerto Angelito, on the other hand, has a much more family atmosphere. I was one of the only foreigners on the beach when I went there, and there were a lot more people swimming and snorkeling here. To be honest, I preferred the atmosphere of Puerto Angelito much more. But check them both out and see which one is right for you.

Playa Zicatela

On the way to Playa Zicatela you will see a large statue of a surfer before getting off the highway. If that wasn’t clear enough, this is the mecca of Surfing in Puerto Escondido. The waves here are perfect for surfers of all levels, and this is the best place to learn as a beginner. I taught at the Pacific Surf Academy and I really enjoyed myself even when I disappeared.

Even if you don’t like surfing, don’t miss a visit to Playa Zicatela. The area adjacent to the coast is known as “La Punta”, and here you will find a high concentration of chic restaurants, cool hostels and a vibrant nightlife.


Known as a hippie paradise, Mazunte is as mystical as it is beautiful. The cliffs around the beaches are full of thorny cacti and dry brush, a wooded terrain that adds to the fantasy of the place. In the city you will find charming cafes, Cosmopolitan restaurants and handicraft shops.

Mazunte is a spiritual center for yogis and all things New Age healing, beyond a renowned surf destination. Don’t be surprised if you rarely find anyone with shoes here – something about Mazunte’s barefoot scene is infectious, I must admit.

Playa Hermosa

I absolutely love this slightly secret beach. I would have spent several days here if I had known how magical it was. Playa Mermejita is located just east of Mazunte and has a rugged appearance. It stretches for a kilometer from one rock to another, and you will not find many hotels or restaurants on the coast.

It was easy to find a deserted spot on the beach to comfort me, which allowed me to recharge my batteries and really appreciate the beauty of the breaking waves and salt spray. Playa Mermejita is also a great place to watch the sunset. Maybe you can also see cetacean in the distance, which seals the magic of this place for me.

To get to Mermejita, you can walk from the city or drive or take a taxi to the sandy parking lot near the Casa Ofelia hotel.

I found Playa Cometa by luck when I went for a solo hike, hoping to get to the famous sunset spot Punta Cometa. Playa Cometa is a small stretch of sand with no infrastructure around it, making it an ideal place to connect with nature without any distractions.

I would not recommend going for a swim here, as the waves are quite insidious. It is even forbidden to camp on Playa Cometa due to the unpredictability of the tides, so I recommend that you go there in the morning or afternoon for a few hours to get out and escape the crowds of other beaches.

Playa Rinconcito

It is the smaller of Mazunte’s two main beaches, but I prefer it because of the scenery. It reminds me of Playa Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido, but you don’t have to go down to get to this one. It has the same bay feel that I liked, and it is right next to a small shopping street with many cafes and restaurants nearby.

The main beach of Mazunte, Playa Principal, is the largest and the best place for surfing. Especially from May to September the waves are ideal for surfing, whether you are a beginner or not. You can rent a shelf right on the beach, and if you want a lesson, ask around and you will find a teacher. Unlike Puerto Escondido, there are no big surf schools here. I predict that will change soon.

Playa Principal is also the perfect place in town to enjoy freshly caught seafood. The ceviche at El Pescador (right on the beach) was the best I had in Oaxaca, by far.

San Agustinillo

This small seaside town is an ideal base for exploring other beaches, as it is located between Mazunte and Zipolite. The long beach is dotted with picturesque restaurants and bars with spectacular ocean views. There is only one main street in the city that runs along the coastline — which was a nightmare to navigate, as it is barely wide enough for two lanes.

All in all, San Agustinillo sleeps in the best way. The atmosphere here is more family-friendly than Puerto Escondido, Mazunte or Zipolite. After people watch the sunset on the easternmost cliff, the city becomes quiet, which I found endearing.

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